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Whisky to turn to rail transport

Published:  28 July, 2011

Whisky distilleries will be forced to transport more freight by rail as the industry continues to expand.

A recent Whisky Logistics Study by the highlands and islands strategic transport partnership, Hitrans, set out to assess the impact on its transport network on the back of industry growth.

Scotch whisky now accounts for around 25% of the UK's food and drink exports and the study shows an anticipated 10% rise in production would result in a further 50,000 transport lorries on Scottish roads each year.

The study also shows that 11% of the distilleries carbon emissions are caused by road freight that will need to be brought in line with European policy which aims to reduce transport greenhouse gases by 60% by 2050, with 30% of road traffic shifting to rail/sea by 2030.

An SWA spokeswoman said: "The viability of shifting some whisky-related freight from road to rail is something that the industry has been looking at for some time. Collaboration would be essential to ensure that the required scale of operations could be achieved and there would be a need for significant infrastructure investment."

She said it was "engaging positively" with the Freight Transport Association to consider the outputs of the Hitrans work and explore what can be done.

Hitrans chairman, councillor Duncan MacIntyre, said the study "demonstrates the great value of whisky to the economy of highlands and islands and to Scotland as a whole, and emphasises the importance of the transport network to its operations".

He added that it is "vital" the logistics requirements of this expanding industry are fully understood when deciding on infrastructure investment.

Those involved in the consultation include: The Scotch Whisky Association, Diageo, The Edrington Group and Pernod Ricard.